Workshop Exercises: Decision

Safety Check

Gauge how comfortable people are speaking openly

Illustration of Safety Check
Run a Safety Check play

Follow-up plays: Personal Histories

Timing: Discovery

Run time
3-10 minutes

Group size

Why: Incorporate at the beginning or throughout a workshop

When: Use at the beginning or throughout a workshop to ensure that participants feel safe in expressing their thoughts

This workshop exercise is part of the Workshop Patterns printed card deck.

A collection of workshop exercises that will help you ditch dull meetings and facilitate with confidence. It will help you master the design process and have more productive time with your team. The card deck will be ready for purchase in the end of 2023 and is now undergoing rigorous testing.

Reserve your deck!

Instructions for running this play

  1. Explain why you are doing the Safety Check exercise and that’s important to be able to talk about anything.
  2. Ask participants to anonymously write a number between 1 and 5 on a paper note, indicating how safe they feel within the group.

    1. I’ll smile, claim everything is great and agree with managers
    2. I’m not going to say much, I’ll let others bring up issues
    3. I’ll talk about some things, but others will be hard to say
    4. I’ll talk about almost anything; a few things might be hard
    5. No Problem, I’ll talk about anything

  3. Collect the input from each participant (or use a hat or other container to keep the activity anonymous).
  4. Make the results visible to the whole group.
  5. Acknowledge the result and decide on next steps.

Tips to perfect this play

Master and adapt the play to fit your context and needs.

Tip: Ensure anonymity

Let everyone use the same sticky note and pen color to ensure anonymity.

Tip: Low safety

If safety is low, then use the remaining time to run an activity helping to increase the group safety level

Tip: Medium safety

If safety is medium, then be careful to ask about the group's opinion as some participants are not comfortable to talk about everything.

Tip: Anonymous feedback

Offer an option for participants to provide anonymous feedback or suggestions on how to improve the comfort and safety of the environment.

Related plays


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Relieve initial group awkwardness and establish a safe space

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